Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cheers: Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Did you ever watch that old show on NBC called Cheers? If you didn't you must have either lived under a rock or on a kibbutz somewhere in Israel, cause everyone watched it! Everyone knew Sam. Norm! was a household name and Cliff spouted off useless bits o' trivia. Then there was Carla, Diana, Woody, Frasier and Lilith. Great characters and no one seemed to mind that Norm was always there, but never drunk. They took potshots at Cliff, but when the chips were down, everyone was there to bail him out. It was a good place to work and a great place to find a friend.

I'm finding that working at the gym is similar in some ways. We've got the recovering and the NOT-so recovering drunks. The happy. The sad. The lonely. Yet, everyone knows your name and your invited in to the community regardless of which rung of the ladder you're clinging to. I've been impressed by the generosity of both my fellow employees and the gym members. It's a unique place and I'm sometimes baffled by it. After all, a group of women all getting along without the cattiness? That's unheard of.

I've written about the lonely ones. They break my heart. I've mentioned the ones whose sheer will power encourages me to stay the path and keep working out. Last night, however, I met a new breed and I've never felt more like a bartender in my life.

She's been at the gym for several months and I've talked to her here and there. It's mostly light conversation, "How's work? Whatcha doin' this weekend?" kind of stuff. But last night she boldly looked me in the eye and told me she's leaving her husband after 28 years of marriage. What do you say to that?

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.

"Don't be," she snickered.


I think divorce is sad. I do. I know it happens and heck, I even prayed my parents would divorce (they didn't, they are still making each other miserable after forty some odd years of marriage). Yet, the idea of it makes me uncomfortable. The heartbreak, the meanness, the failure. I simply think it's sad, even though I understand that sometimes and for some people, it's the right thing to do.

This woman at the gym told me more about the failure of her marriage in thirty minutes than I could tell you about my book collection. She shared intimate details that made my mind scream, "Too much information!" repeatedly. Then she waited to see what I would say.

What could I say? I don't walk in her shoes. I'm sure she must have her reasons, some of which she shared with me. Could I tell her I thought it was sad? That maybe they should give counseling more time? I'm just her bartender, I mean coach, who am I to give advice? And frankly, was she really looking for advice?

Probably not

In the end I smiled and told her to be strong and not to jump from the frying pan into the fire (she's leaving this weekend for a getaway with her "friend"). Lame, I know.

She left me sad and filled with thoughts of what I should have said. Those sentences are still slinking around inside my head, unsaid, unheeded. Did I fail because I didn't encourage her to fight for her marriage? Or was it best that I kept my big, idiot girl mouth shut and simply acted her confessor?

I don't know


Patti said...

my first thought was that nothing you said would have been heard. she seems hell bent on doing as she plans. and i'm with you, how does one respond to that?!

Shelley said...

that is a tough call. Possibly she was looking for you to agree with her, to confirm what she was doing is "okay", which would help her feel better about herself. I have to agree with Patti, usually when people have made up their mind to leave a spouse after a long term marriage, they have been thinking about it and planning it for awhile. The person has convinced themselves it is the right thing to do(as they have focused on the negative aspects of their marriage)and anything that opposes their thoughts is not heard. The person has already justified it in their mind and can negate anything you might say...

However, ALL situations are different, when you listen to what you hear them "saying"- and depending on your relationship w/ the person, it may be worth a "try" to get them to see the positives of their marriage and encourage them to be sure they have done all that they can to save the marriage.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the movie, "Fireproof" yet? I think this movie could be a life changer for some. I highly recommend it for those of us who have been married for many, many years, those who will marry one day and for those who are in unhappy marriages contemplating divorce.